It’s National Merlot Day! Here are three mid-priced versions of this under-appreciated red

 I love “National Whatever” days.

They provide an excuse to focus on something other than the daily routine.

If you find yourself in a wine drinking routine…same brand, same varietal, different night…we suggest you bust out and try merlot, especially on National Merlot Day.

Merlot’s reputation in the US got torpedoed by the 2004 movie “Sideways”.  The French heard about that and scoffed “Américain stupide”.  Translation: they weren’t complimentary.

  For centuries, Merlot has been a major ingredient in high-priced and highly-regarded Bordeaux blends.  For the rest of the wine world, “Sideways” wasn’t even a blip on the radar.

But Merlot is still in comeback mode here.  Just check out your neighborhood wine section.  The usual suspects hog the shelves.  Merlot appears to be a merchandising afterthought.

Too bad since it is a nice alternative if you’re suffering from “red wine rut” and to escape the rut via Merlot, you don’t have to make a big investment.

Here’s a wonderful buy, Sterling’s Vintner’s Collection Merlot that retails for only $9.99.  It has a pleasing earthy, well-rounded flavor.  Red meat with this?  Bingo.

If you like more fruit flavor in your reds, you’ll probably like Revelry Vintners Columbia Valley Merlot.  Priced at $14, this one is 100% Merlot, an amalgamation of fruit sourced from throughout Eastern Washington.  Revelry calls it a “crowd pleaser”.  Yes, if your crowd likes their wine a touch on the sweeter side.

What type of wine doesn’t Coppola produce?  Besides its popular Cabernet, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Claret, the Coppola empire offers their Blue Label Merlot for $16.  Just a bit tart right out of the bottle, this improved markedly with exposure to air.  In the end, it had a pleasant blueberry finish.

The good news:  if these Merlots came from Bordeaux, I guarantee you they would cost 3-4 times as much.  The bad news:  they are a little tough to find.  Your nearest Fred Meyer should have all three.  We struck out at Safeway and Trader Joe’s.  Depending on which QFC you frequent, you should find the Coppola and perhaps the Sterling.

More good news:  if it’s National Merlot Day, can National Tempranillo Day and National Zinfandel Day and International Beaujolais Nouveau Day be far behind?